01/25/2013 10:45 EST | Updated 03/27/2013 05:12 EDT

Google user data requests from authorities soar

Governments and courts around the world have increased their requests for Google user data by 70 per cent since 2009, Google reports.

In Google's latest Transparency Report this week, the company showed it had received 21,389 requests for information about 33,634 users between July and December 2012, a rise from 12,539 during the same period three years earlier.

Google has released the reports every six months since 2010, saying "it's important for people to understand how government actions affect them."

The percentage of requests for which Google produced some of the data has declined from 76 per cent in 2010, when Google first started tracking that, to 66 per cent in 2012.

In Canada, the number of requests was 38, staying relatively unchanged since 2009. However, Google produced some of the data in just 24 per cent of cases, down from 55 per cent in 2010.

U.S. authorities made 40 per cent of the requests in the latest report, which targeted 44 per cent of the users, under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Google broke down the U.S. data for the first time to show that:

- 68 per cent were subpoenas requesting information to identify users.

- 22 per cent were search warrants.

- 10 per cent were court orders.

Subpoenas "are the easiest to get because they typically don't involve judges," reported Richard Salgado, Google's legal director of law enforcement and information security, on the Google blog.

The company said that unlike previous transparency reports, the latest does not include new data on requests from authorities for Google to remove content that is allegedly illegal because it is defamatory, violates copyright or breaks other laws.

The company said it plans to release content removal numbers separately from hereon in.